I read more horror in 2011 than on any other year in my life. However, there was a lot left on my to-read pile at the end of the year. I guess it's one of the flaws of being a human and having two jobs. Many of the titles on that pile would undoubtedly have made this list, but I had more than enough great books to choose from with the dozens that I read. Take a look at my picks.
10. Greg F. Gifune's "Dreams the Ragman"
The absolute best in this list when it comes to atmosphere. Gifune has a knack for dark descriptions and creepy crescendos in terms of action. Dreams the Ragman dances between the reality of an awful town and the ethereal world of nightmares.
9. Ed Kurtz's "Bleed"
A powerful debut novel that should let horror fans know Kurtz is here to stay. From the nerve-wracking loneliness that the main character suffers from to a cannibalistic female with no skin who must feed to become complete, this fast-paced and gory debut has all a horror book must have to make a list like this one.
8. Jeffrey Thomas' "Blood Society"
When you put together a demonic type of vampire and the great Al Capone, you can either get a messy book or an interesting, captivating and truly epic story like the one told in Blood Society. A horror book packed with action that never looses track of the opportunity it creates to explore humanity, death and love.
A first book by an indie author that has such crisp prose, believable dialogue and spine-chilling scenes that it managed to bump some known authors off this list. Ahlborn brings a classic tale with a few new twists to the table, but the narrative is so uniquely hers that everything feels new. Seed also has one of the most sinister child characters since the gang of the original Children of the Corn.
6. Rob Scott's "15 Miles"
Scott brings noir and horror together like no one else. 15 Miles truly deserves a cliché: it's very hard to put down. The horror elements work beautifully because their sprinkled here and there with such casualness that there's no option but to believe they're real. Also, this book has a likeable anti-hero that right up there with Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder.
Funny, heartbreaking, full of adventures, weird and truly unique, "Fangboy" is, simply put, unlike anything else you've ever read. The one-liners come at you at dizzying speed, Fangboy is impossible not to like and the bad guys are classic in a child's-story-evil-witch kind of way. Don't worry, the bit of gore there is and the way Strand presents to us the awful side of human nature are more than enough to make this one a horror story.
This book would make Larry Flint blush and the incomparable Jack Ketchum cringe. Enough said.
3. Edward Lee's "Carnal Surgery"
Lee's prose is undeniable strong and his horrific/gory/savage stories are always underlined by a marvelous deconstruction of the human psyche. This book will get a reaction out of you on both a physical and a psychological level.
2. Lee Thomas' "The German"
Thomas is a writer's writer and The German is a powerful and dark narrative about childhood, homosexuality, war and prejudice. Ernst Lang, the main character, will trigger a plethora of reactions and you'll love him one second and judge him a madman the next. This beautifully-written story is sinister without trying too hard and unsettling in the best of ways. The German will be pacing around in your psyche long after you're done reading.
1. Robert Devereaux's "Baby's First Book of Seriously Fucked-Up Shit"
There is no one out there quite like Devereaux and his literary chops are applied full-force here. The stories that make up this collection take the reader from a beauty pageant for fetuses to Tinkerbell's love life to a universe-shattering orgy between God, Adam and Eve. When it comes to horror, Devereaux earns the highest compliment I can pay any writer: he's so damn good it's scary.
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Gabino lives in Austin, Texas, where he reads an inordinate amount of books and pens down reviews only for the big bucks he makes doing so. When he was about 12, his mother would tell him that reading all the H.P. Lovecraft and Poe would not lead to anything good. Being on the staff page at HorrorTalk is the confirmation of that.